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Economic possibilities and challenges for Bangladesh

Fazly Rabbi
04 Feb 2023 00:01:33 | Update: 04 Feb 2023 00:01:33
Economic possibilities and challenges for Bangladesh

In the course of the new era of human civilization that began with the discovery of ‘fire’ in ancient times, nomadic primitive people laid the foundations of society-based society through various innovations such as agriculture and wheels. The invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1776  marked the beginning of the first industrial revolution in human civilization. From the labour-based production system, we become acquainted with the production system through machinery. The discovery of electricity in the 18th century added a new dimension to human civilization. The Second Industrial Revolution was mainly based on electricity. In the 3rd Industrial Revolution, society advanced at an unimaginable speed, based on the widespread use of computers and the Internet and automation technology.

The 4th Industrial Revolution, based on artificial intelligence, is now moving faster than we can imagine, and the industrial revolution that is now knocking at our door, discarding all the calculations of the past. The foundation of the 4th Industrial Revolution was computing technology based on ‘knowledge and artificial intelligence’. Technologies like robotics, IoT, nanotechnology, data science, etc. are constantly taking the 4th Industrial Revolution to unique heights.

The impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution will be greatest in the labor market. As a result of automation technology, machines will gradually become industrial-dependent. Tech giant Apple’s hardware maker Foxconn has already laid off 60,000 workers and replaced them with robots. The use of robots in Chinese factories has increased by 30.8% in recent years. The World Economic Forum said in a research report that by 2022, 65 million people worldwide will lose their jobs due to robots. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the number of jobless people will reach 600 million by 2030.

According to a report in Fortune Magazine, at least 500 leading companies in the world have delegated their recruitment process to artificial intelligence, meaning that computers are now hiring humans! Speaking of driverless cars, Tesla has announced that such cars will be rolled out on the streets of New York in 2020. However, such cars are being tested in many places, including Dubai. It will be seen in the near future that millions of drivers will lose their jobs just because of such vehicles. If you get a car without a driver, who will hire a driver?

Within these fears, there is a unique possibility of achieving economic prosperity in the future. At present, the number of youth in Bangladesh is 4 crore 8 lakhs which is 30 per cent of the total population. In the case of Bangladesh, young or productive people will be the majority for the next 30 years. This is the most significant tool for Bangladesh to enjoy the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution. In this knowledge-based industrial revolution, skilled human resources will be more valuable than natural resources.

As a result of the 4th Industrial Revolution, a large number of people lost their jobs, but at the same time, various new types of workplaces will be created. These new-age jobs require a high level of technical skills. The most suitable young people for future jobs like Data Scientists, IoT experts, and Robotics engineers.

According to a study by the University of Oxford, over the next two decades, 48 per cent of mankind’s work will be done through automated artificial intelligence devices. The 4th Industrial Revolution has eliminated labour-dependent and relatively low-skilled jobs, but now is the best time to prepare our young generation for a new job market that is highly skilled. If it is possible to prepare skilled manpower, Bangladesh is much more suitable than many other countries to enjoy the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution by utilizing the demographic dividend.

In this case, Japan may be the best example for us. From a fragile economy after World War II to today’s second-largest economy, Japan has shown the world that economic and overall living standards can only be achieved through the use of human resources. Japan’s natural resources are negligible and the amount of arable land is only 15%. Japan has overcome all its natural adversities by transforming its population into skilled manpower. This example from Japan is the most useful for us. If we can transform the vast young population of Bangladesh into human resources, we can become a country with a developed economy.

To take advantage of the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution, our main goal must be to create skilled human resources suitable for the 4th Industrial Revolution, and this will require a radical change in the education system. To build a knowledge-based society, meritorious people need to be evaluated, and allocation for research funding must be increased. There should be an opportunity for the young talented people of this country to take up research as a profession.

And if that were possible, it would not be impossible for us to build a welfare state based on human resources like Japan. The 4th Industrial Revolution is no longer just a theoretical study. It will not be possible at all to reap the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution if we do not adapt to the constant race for digitalization. The next world will be the world of the knowledge-based generation, so now is the time to prepare for that time, otherwise, the story of lagging behind will only be repeated again and again.

The writer is an engineer. He can be contacted at [email protected]